Battery-related visits to ER doubled

May 14, 2012 at 7:35 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 14 (UPI) -- The annual number of battery-related visits to a hospital by U.S. children more than doubled over a 20-year study period, researchers found.

Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said the number of children being treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms due to batteries -- 84 percent involved button batteries -- jumped from 2,591 emergency department visits in 1990 to 5,525 in 2009.

The number of button batteries swallowed by children also doubled during this period, Smith said.

The study, scheduled to be published in the June print issue of the journal Pediatrics, found more than three-fourths of battery-related visits to emergency departments by children were among children 5 years old or younger -- with 1-year-olds having the greatest number of emergency department visits.

However, only 29 percent involved batteries that were used for toys and games. The majority of cases involved batteries from products not intended for use by young children, such as watches at 14 percent, 12 percent from calculators, 9 percent from flashlights and 6 percent from remote controls.

"We live in a world designed by adults for the convenience of adults, and the safety of children is often not considered," Smith said in a statement. "Products with easily accessible battery compartments are everywhere in our homes today."

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